Data published by the Department for Education confirms that Apprenticeship starts are recovering from the hit they took during the height of the Covid pandemic.
Kelle McQuade, End-Point Assessment Director at Training Qualifications UK expressed the importance of these rising statistics. She said, “The recent statistics are extremely telling in showcasing the determination and resilience of Apprentices all over the country.”
It’s no real surprise that starts were down almost immediately following the March 2020 announcement that we were going into lockdown. All of us were forced into a situation where we had to make difficult choices and re-evaluate our priorities. It suddenly didn’t feel like the right time to make big changes or heavily invest when things were so uncertain.
But things are looking up. People are starting to look forward and businesses are seeing green shoots of growth.
The figures show that there were 130,200 starts between August and October 2021 which were up by 43.0% in comparison to the 91,000 starts during the same period in 2020.
There’s been an increased number of starts from learners aged 25 and over – from 41,500 to 49,800. What’s happening? Are adult learners choosing to retrain? The pandemic reset us and gave us an opportunity to change direction where perhaps before we couldn’t see the options.
Higher apprenticeships at levels 4 to 7 increased by 27 per cent to 38,200, compared to 30,100 in the same period last year.
Starts at level 6 and 7 (degree level) increased by 35 per cent from 14,300 in the first quarter of 2020/21 to 19,400 in 2021/22. Perhaps people are choosing alternative routes to degree qualification after watching so many students have their university experience so disrupted.
But have these statistics met the government targets?
The target set was to triple the number of starts within the 2020/21 and 2021/22 academic years with almost £250million to back this.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed in the March 2021 Budget that employers can claim a cash boost of £3,000 for each new Apprentice they take on as part of a Government initiative.
In the Budget, Rishi Sunak said, “Young people have been hit especially hard by the crisis, which is why our Plan for Jobs, launched last year, is focused on helping them get the skills they need to get the jobs they want.
“By boosting the cash incentives for our apprenticeship scheme we’re improving opportunities for young people to stay in and find work – this could not be more important in our economy’s recovery.”
The incentives do seem to have played a part in the rise as there were 56,500 incentive claims for apprenticeships starting in the first quarter in comparison to 28,600 for the same period in 2020/21.
Kelle said, “Employers should wholeheartedly embrace apprenticeships to fully understand the endless benefits they can offer to new and young entrants to their organisation as well as their existing workforce.”
The importance of apprenticeships is more apparent than ever. Not only to give people the opportunities that lie ahead of completing an apprenticeship, but to benefit businesses employing new talent.
Kelle said, “Apprenticeships remain a fantastic tool for employers to attract new talent into their organisations, as well as develop their current workforce.
“This has never been truer than now as we emerge from a state of pandemic and uncertainty.”